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COMANCHE COUNTY, KANSAS: HOME OF THE WILMORE OPRY
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The WILMORE OPRY
Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.

Presentation of a plaque of appreciation to Jerry Ferrin at the 6 Nov 2004 Wilmore Opry. From left: Vanita Blundell, Jerry Ferrin, Linda Winter and Dan Winter.

Photo courtesy of Dave Rose.
Presentation of a plaque of appreciation to Jerry Ferrin at the 6 Nov 2004 Wilmore Opry.
From left: Vanita Blundell, Jerry Ferrin, Linda Winter and Dan Winter.
Photo courtesy of David Rose.


WILMORE OPRY HISTORY

by Dan Winter, July 27, 2005.


On a cold snow covered eve in Wilmore on March 1st 2003, the birth of the Wilmore Opry gave way to a new style of fun in a variety of music and comedy in Comanche County.

It started with a fast pace show and a heavy line up of variety and fun. With a laid back, down home feel on stage and in the audience. That same feeling and friendship still holds true today.

The entertainers and Opry family donate their time. The proceeds go for a great cause to help the hurting in our county and surrounding counties. Entertainers that has performed on the Wilmore Opry has been from the ages of 3 to 93 years old. A lot of youth and adult entertainers from Comanche County has performed on the Wilmore Opry. Performers from Opry's in other states and Grand 'ole' Opry entertainers has graced our stage. There has been performers that entertained on our show, that are in the Hall of Fame. We have had entertainers perform on the Opry from Branson Mo.

The Opry has had bus tours in 2003 and 2004, with 2 shows a night and full to packed houses. The Wilmore Opry has sent entertainers to talent contests. Some of our youth has wound up in top spots. Including 1st, 2nd, and 5th place winners. The Wilmore Opry is not only noted for it's amazing talent, but also for it's fun and good neighborly spirit.

The Opry started one dark night in January 2003 from a literal awesome dream Dan had. He saw the stage and a lot of music and fun for everyone. Dan also saw a way the proceeds could be used to help ease the pain in the lives of folks that might be hurting. Dan saw the streets filled with cars and lined up to get into the Opry show. He told me about the dream and I saw the stir and excitement in him so I thought about it, then I knew I just had to give him a helping hand.

The 3 nights that followed of Dan staring into the dark with visions of how to create the Opry from the line up of entertainers and how to place them and also how to get the word out of the new shows. Telling the folks on the streets, in businesses, placing flyers in towns.

As word got out about the Opry, radio stations started talking about the shows. By July 2003 the ticket system at the Opry was born and gave way to 2 shows a night, to handle the crowds with packed houses in both shows. They came from far and wide to feel the fun and see the talent. The newspapers including Hutchinson and the Wichita Eagle were writing stories about the fun going on at Wilmore Opry. By August 2003 the radio stations were talking now, on their morning shows about the Wilmore Opry.

Jerry Ferrin of Tucson, Arizona, born near Wilmore, Ks, heard about the Wilmore Opry and contacted us in July 2003 about donating his time to build web pages for the Opry. Jerry has performed on the Wilmore Opry stage Nov. 2004. He is Comanche County's Rootsweb webmaster. Jerry has been greatly beneficial in the growth of the Wilmore Opry.

The Opry is a dream of a family fun show night, that has awesomely come true, with extra shows at Coldwater, Greensburg, and Medicine Lodge.

Vanita Blundell of Comanche County has been the Wilmore Opry's Emcee since May 2003. She is a lot of fun for the Opry. Jack Cline was the Opry's emcee from March til May 2003

Myrna Bumgarner of Comanche County, also known as the Opry's 'Minnie Pearl', has given laughter to folks in the audience since 2003.

The Wilmore Opry has 5 board members: Daryl Schiff - Chairman, performs and is certainly another big boost to the Opry. Dan Winter - Vice-Chairman, Candy Murphy, Linda Winter and Mike Deewall - board members. In 2003 Linda Crowe served as a board member and Kent Little served on the board in 2003, 2004 until July 2005. In 2003 Dan Winter served as Chairman of the Board.

Jane Deewall is the Opry's money manager at Stalcup Accounting. Joe Vance tax service and Skip Herd, attorney, takes care of the paperwork for the Opry's non-profit open book service.

So Dan and Linda Winter began a journey that would turn out to be one of the great fun things they have done in life. Sharing music and laughter with their friends and neighbors here in Comanche County and surrounding counties.

Wilmore Opry founded March 1st 2003 by Dan and Linda Winter.


(The above history, provided to this web site on 27 July 2005, is the same one provided at about the same time for publication in Comanche County History, Vol. II. The above photo will appear with the article in the book.)


THE WILMORE OPRY performers take a bow at the end of an evening. Photo by Dave & Lloyd Rose for The Wilmore Opry.  Used with permission of Dave Rose.

How The Wilmore Opry Began

by
Dan Winter

22 September 2003


In January of this year I awoke from a very vivid dream of a place where we could all get together and have fun. This dream was so real to me. I went and talked to the city council members and told them what I wanted to do for the communities and how I felt it would help everyone. They give me the ok to build the stage in the community center. In my dream I could see the stage and how to build it. I built the stage out in Clark Yost's shed, numbered all the pieces took it apart and put it back together in the Center. In my dream I also saw the name out in front was 'Wilmore Opry'. I saw how to make the schedule for the performers.

Inside I saw the Center was full of folks laughing and having fun watching the show. I also saw in my dream folks lined up outside waiting to get in and cars everywhere in town. We have seen this at our shows. In my dream there was no money charged for the entertainment just a basket for donations. No one was to be paid for their performance, but the money was to be used to help our neighbors and folks that had fallen on hard times, the hurting. Whether it be financially, mentally or physically. It was to develop talent in our young people and brings folks together. I felt it was so important to bring our communities together. It would make us stronger and our communities would not die.

In my dream there were people laying out by the sidewalk that looked like they were street people. There were folks going inside and getting them food and drinks and giving to them. I believe the ones in my dream that needed help were the folks that had no hope or laughter or fun in their lives. It is such a hard time for so many folks with our world situation as it is, that we needed a place that we could go and just have fun. Meet old and new friends. Whether we were a millionaire or a pauper with not a dime.

Everyone should be able to go and have the same fun. The wonderful thing about the Opry is not only can rich and poor sit side be side and enjoy the show, but the money that is donated helps so many folks in our communities.

I have set up a non-profit organization through attorney Skip Herd. The Opry has two accounts at Peoples Bank in Coldwater: a checking to pay expenses to keep the show running and a savings account for the needy that cannot be used except for helping someone.

The Opry has Stalcup Accounting that does our books for us. All of our books are open to the public. Anyone at any time can go see Linda Crowe at Peoples Bank where we have a ledger kept of all monies spent. We have an open book policy. Peoples Bank and Insurance have been great supporters of the Wilmore Opry.

The Opry has a board member from each town in Comanche County. I represent Wilmore, Our minister in Coldwater, Kent Little of the Methodist Church and Candy Murphy from Protection - President of Bank of Protection. I have two alternate board members, Linda Crowe, Vice President of Peoples Bank in Coldwater and my wife Linda Winter is an alternate board member.

We have sent flowers to a lot of folks thats going thru illness or death in the family and we have helped folks with groceries, propane, rent and electric.

Our fund is set up for a one time help and then we point them in a direction where they can get help. That way we can help a lot of different folks.

Our fund requires two signatures on the check. Linda and I get no money of any kind for running the Opry. Neither does anyone that works for the Opry. We have such giving people in our communities. To see the smiles on the folks faces when they come to the Opry and tell you that they can't remember when they have had such fun.

We were having two shows on Saturday night to accomodate every one and giving away tickets so we could limit the seating and be ok with the Fire Marshall.

We have had packed houses in both shows.

The Opry is a lot of work. It is so worth it.

I am 64 and my wife is 57. We have been residents of Wilmore for 22 years. We wished we could have did this earlier in our lives. Of course that would have been hard to do working at a job. Now that we are retired we are able to do this. The Opry is a full time job in itself. I guess this is the time that we really needed something around here for some joy in folks lives.

Martina McBride's parents Daryl and Jean Schiff have helped the Opry a lot. Not only by Daryl performing, but they let us have our sound system at their cost. And they set it up for us. It is a Peavy sound system and it is great.

We really appreciate all of the support and help from our Opry family. So many folks give of their time and talent. Without their help we couldn't produce the show.

Our new fall schedule for Oct, Nov, and Dec. will be one show 5:00 to 8:00 P.M. with intermission. We went to one show because of cooler weather and so much activities going on. We extended the time on our show to make room for all our entertainers.

We are planning a fund raiser in late January or February. Probably a dinner theater. Will let you know when we get a definite date.

We will be at the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty this Friday and Saturday. Performing on 5 flat bed trailers in the middle of town. Friday show will be 9:00 to 9:45 a.m. before the parade and on Saturday it will be after the parade at 11:30 to 1:00 p.m.

Then our regular Opry night. Sat. Oct 4th, 2003, at 5:00 to 8:00 pm. We will be having an entertainer from Az. and Calif. on our show. We are having a young girl back that was on our last show for the first time. Wendy Monroe from Greensburg. She has an amazing voice. Sang a Whitney Houston song that got her two standing ovations. Wendy is 23 and was in an automobile accident when she was 19 that paralyzed her from the waist down. Before the accident she had a full scholarship for music and art at a college. She was unable to use the scholarship after her accident. Her voice is so amazing. We have ask her to be a regular on the Opry. All the regulars will back including Daryl Schiff and Hitchiker (my brother). Everyone enjoys hearing them perform.

We have a lot of exciting performers in our Nov. show. Will update you on this next month.

Thanks a lot

Dan Winter

Dan & Linda Winter
Wilmore, KS 67155

Wilmore:
A fun place to spend an evening each month with old & new friends
at Wilmore's Little Opry.


Want to help support the efforts of The Wilmore Opry?

Please make your check payable to The Wilmore Opry and send it to:

The Wilmore Opry Account
Peoples Bank
101 East Main
P.O. Box 727
Coldwater Ks, 67029

Phone: (800) 889-9887   or   (620) 582-2166
      Fax: (620) 582-2209


For Tickets, or to Entertain on the Wilmore Opry,
call Dan or Linda Winter at 316-617-7682
or e-mail: wilmoreopry@webtv.net

Vanita Blundell
Stage Manager and Program Director.
Phone: 620-582-2542.
Author of the "Country Gal" column in The Western Star.

Entertainers: call Daryl Schiff at 620-886-3293, or call Dan Winter at 316-617-7682
for Special Venues and Legends Shows.


More News About The Wilmore Opry

Wilmore Opry News - Dan & Linda Winter's Web Page Dan & Linda have created their own web page about the Wilmore Opry and update it regularly. Check it out!

Wilmore Opry Shows & Events Another webpage created by Dan & Linda Winter, also updated regularly with photos and news items.

Hard times forgotten at Wilmore's opry "Dan Winter dreamed that an open amateur variety show might lift his town's spirits. Now western Kansas is singing the Wilmore Opry's praises." The Wichita Eagle, 20 July 2003.

Kelly McGuire's article, Wilmore Opry's monthly shows pack plenty of entertainment onto small stage was published in The Hutchinson News July 4, 2003.

Dallas Wilson's website, www.wilmoreks.com, features a PowerPoint presentation of Wilmore Opry performers.

Wilmore Opera House, November 17, 1917 "An evening with the Osceola Pooler Concert Company"

Wilmore Opera House, 1915. A collection of advertisements for 1915 shows at Fisher's Opera House in Wilmore.


Photo at top of page: "THE WILMORE OPRY performers take a bow at the end of an evening." Photo by David Rose for The Wilmore Opry. Used with permission of Dan Winter.

HTML Guy: Jerry Ferrin

This page was last updated 19 February 2006.

The following www.digits.com "hits counter" started counting on 26 October 2003.